Invader Zim

Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by comic book writer/artist Jhonen Vasquez and aired on Nickelodeon. First broadcasted on March 30, 2001, the show's strange animation, quirky humor, and dark, cynical style gave it a devoted cult following, with an audience of an older average age than those of most of Nickelodeon's other cartoons. Because of this, ratings for Nickelodeon's core demographic, 2-11 year olds, were fairly low. Disappointed with its low ratings and high production costs, Nickelodeon cancelled the show. One and a half seasons of Invader Zim were completed. It can currently be seen in reruns on Nicktoons and MTV2's Sic 'Emation lineup, and YTV will begin airing the series in Canada on September 8, 2006 at midnight. Invader Zim DVD compilations have been released by Media Blasters. The series has since been translated into several different languages for foreign broadcast.

Zim is a member of the mighty Irken race, a species of aliens whose social hierarchy is based on height. The Irken leaders are the Almighty Tallest (during the course of the show, leadership of the Irken Empire is shared by two Tallest, Purple and Red, who are exactly the same height). Zim was banished to the planet Foodcourtia as a fry cook for the remainder of his life for destroying a sizable portion of the Irken home planet, Irk, with a giant robot, known as the Frontline Battle Mech. The robot was part of Operation Impending Doom I, a major galactic conquest venture by the Irkens. Zim was overeager (as usual) and activated his robot before leaving his home planet, much to the chagrin of his leaders.

Upon hearing of Operation Impending Doom II, Zim "quits" being banished and arrives at the Great Assigning where Irken Elite soldiers are chosen to become Invaders, special soldiers whose mission it is to blend in with the indigenous life forms of their assigned planet and collect intelligence. Zim pleads with the Tallest to assign him a planet, and in a desperate act to get Zim as far away as possible, they assign him to a "Mystery Planet", which turns out to be Earth.

The show features the exploits of Zim trying to conquer the Earth while his arch-nemesis Dib tries to stop him. The exact year on Earth is unknown, but given some rather striking technological and societal changes, the series is evidently set at some point in the future.

In a Nickelodeon Magazine Special there was a short 4 page comic of Invader Zim that ended the series with Zim taking over the world while Dib wasn't looking, then inviting Dib to go into space with him and ride giant alien bunnies. But another possible ending would end up with Zim failing to take over the world in the episode "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", which was the last episode made of the series, where we see 2 million years into the future and the humans are not conquered or destroyed. Santa, however, has become an intergalactic chaos beast. It is also known that aside from the Christmas finale, there was the alternate plan to produce story editor, Rob Hummel's "10 Minutes to Doom" script as the series' dramatic conclusion. In the original script Zim did survive, but the ending would have been tampered so that he would've failed to retrieve his Pak at the end of his ten minute lifelock (the final product of the countdown would have Zim reduced to a fine pile of goo).

In an IGN interview Vasquez has stated that if the series had continued Zim would eventually see the beauty in human life and would become Earth's spokesman to the Irkens, although this could be interpreted as a joke considering the character and the direction of the show as a whole.

Main characters:

Zim is a short, green, almost stereotypical looking alien from the planet Irk. He is also a narcissistic megalomaniac who usually has enormous outbursts claiming his normality. He is trying to conquer the Earth, and is generally unsuccessful. He is aided in his mission by a robot named GIR.

GIR is a dysfunctional version of the Irken S.I.R. (Standard Information Retrieval) units given to Irken invaders, but nobody knows what the G stands for. GIR rarely helps, but sometimes assists Zim unintentionally by doing destructive things to Dib.

Dib is Zim's main rival, a member of Zim's class at the "Skool" they both attend. Dib is obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural and is often criticised by his classmates for being "crazy" or mentally unstable due to his outlandish theories. He apparently is the only human to recognize or care that Zim is an alien and makes it clear that he will live to stop Zim at every turn. Seemingly everyone he comes into contact with claims Dib has an unusually large head, even though all the children in the show are drawn with large heads and Dib's is no more abnormally large than any of theirs.

Gaz is Dib's younger sister who also plays a prominent role in the show, but rarely takes an active part in stopping Zim's schemes. She knows and admits that Zim is an alien, but doesn't care because she thinks he's too stupid to take over the world.

The music for Invader Zim was composed by Kevin Manthei and is in a digital techno style. The title music was composed by Mark Tortoroci, but Manthei arranged it. Manthei, however, did the music for the end credits and all the music for the actual episodes.

In September 2002, 7 months after the cancellation of the series, Anime Stuff-R, an internet radio website, broadcasted the Zim-phony, A 5 hour broadcast of all the music from the 26 episodes of Invader Zim composed by Kevin Manthei. This session, presented by DJ Richard Rae is the most popular that Anime Stuff-R has broadcasted. Also included in this session was an interview with Kevin Manthei by Richard Rae in August of 2002, where Kevin talked mostly about how the music of Invader Zim was composed and inserted in the show.

Because of the popularity of the broadcast, Anime Stuff-R made 100 MP3 CDs with the entire broadcast. They made only 100 because of copyright and financial reasons.

Kevin Manthei also released a Promo CD containing some music from Invader Zim. This Promo CD is still available but one needs to get in touch with composer Kevin Manthei to acquire it.

Fans of Vasquez's pre-Zim comic books will instantly identify Zim as "his" work; the show is suffused with the same highly developed visual style and unique sense of humour that are showcased in series like Squee! and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Furthermore, some characters—such as schoolteacher Miss Bitters—are direct adaptations of similar characters seen in those two series, and even some of Vasquez's lesser known characters and symbols (like Filler Bunny, the giant-toothed vampire, the "Z?" logo, Devi's doll, or the moronic aliens from Squee #1) have cameo appearances. Also, an alien that appeared in Squee #2 looked exactly like Zim with human hair and alien eyes. One of Vasquez's comics (titled Happy Noodle Boy) appeared on one episode on a child's shirt on while leaving the "Skool" on the bus. Also appearing in cameos are Vasquez himself and many members of the show's cast/crew (e.g. director/producer Steve Ressel).

Recurring gags include meat, rubber pigs, moose, Dib's huge head, dookie, organs (both human and otherwise), as well as the POOP corporation used for the cola the characters drink as well as the candy they sell in the episode. The show also makes occasional references to classic works of horror or science fiction, ranging from Dawn of the Dead to Fantastic Voyage, and from Jurassic Park to Alien and to even Fargo. In one episode called Rise of the Zit Boy, Gaz is seen sitting on the steps to the school's back entrance reading a book called Punch Club which also has an image of a clenched fist on its cover, doubtless a reference to Fight Club.

The biggest reference to Vasquez's work, aside from Ms. Bitters, is the brief appearance of what appears to be Johnny C. in Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom wherein one of the Halloweenies looks exactly like a shadow form of Johnny during the period of his life where he had two locks of hair shaped like a rabbit's ears.

Also, in several episodes, such as "Door to Door", there is a chihuahua that scares people. This is likely a reference to the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac issue, A Survey in Hell. Johnny mentions a chihuahua from two nights before that followed him around. Jhonen has also mentioned that he is afraid of dogs at the 2005 comic-con.

Two seasons of Invader Zim aired. In Season 2, the animation style is slightly different from Season 1. Also, all episodes in Season 2 except The Most Horrible X-mas Ever were not aired in the U.S. until after the DVDs were released. There were also over 10 partially finished second season episodes and a few which were still in the outline stage when the show was cancelled (some of which have been leaked to various fan sites). These unfinished episodes include a two-part finale in which Dib was to fight the Irken Armada by going to the aid of the planet Meekrob (assigned to Invader Tenn).

There were also plans for a TV movie special, Invader Dib, which would have possibly carried on from the finale.

In May 2004, Nickelodeon and Media Blasters released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection. Within weeks of its initial availability it became one of the top 100 currently selling items on popular online retailer, giving fans hope that Volume 2 would be released with minimal delay. By late 2004, the other 2 volumes had been released. A boxed set in the shape of Zim's house has also been released which includes an extras disc with interviews and a sample soundtrack.

Two series of Invader Zim figures have been produced, including Zim, GIR, Dib, Ms. Bitters, Almighty Tallest Red and Purple, Gaz, and Roboparents. A multitude of other toys were produced such as the Voot Cruiser and a 12 inch "Mega GIR" with a removable dog disguise. Also, many counterfeit products are made such as iron on transfers, stickers, and keychains.

Creative differences with Nickelodeon drove Jhonen Vasquez from the show. Even if the show is ever picked up again, a key staff member, Steve Ressel, has already expressed that he won't return to the show. In an IGN interview, Vasquez has claimed that if he were to get creative freedom on Zim, he may possibly continue it. Since the cancellation, Mr. Vasquez and the other crew have moved on to other projects.

Fans have also raised an online petition for the relaunch of Invader Zim. Many believe if the sales of the DVDs and merchandise continue, Nickelodeon will perhaps resurrect Invader Zim, similar to what happened to Family Guy after its cancellation.

"New" episodes of Invader Zim began to surface on the Nicktoons Network starting on June 10, 2006, although these so-called "new" episodes are actually on the last DVD and were never aired because the show was put out of production.

# Jhonen Vasquez has a few cameo appearances in the show; in the first episode The Nightmare Begins, one of the two disguises Zim reviews before choosing his regular, is Jhonen himself (Zim declares the disguise "Too ugly!"). Similar to that, in the episode Germs, in MacMeaty's, Jhonen is seen to be eating with the personified second disguise from the first episode, and a script entitled The Nightmare Begins is on the table next to them. In both of the episodes, Steve Ressel (the director of the show) is seen as well; first, as the "too stinky" disguise, second, eating with Jhonen, and also trying to save his child in Attack of the Saucer Morons. Other cameos of Jhonen Vasquez include the episode Attack of the Saucer Morons (in which he is a "saucer moron") and The Wettening (dying from drinking a piranha). The Wettening was the last cameo of Jhonen. He stopped the cameos of himself because he said it was distracting people from the show itself.

# Jhonen's favorite episode of the show is Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars, which he states in the DVD commentary for that episode. His least favorite is Mortos Der Soulstealer.

# Zim has starred in the Game Boy Advance game Freeze Frame Frenzy (look in the background of the picture) and in the Xbox, PC, and GameCube game, Nicktoons Party Blast.

# In some episodes, an image of GIR covered in blood (known to Zim fans as a "bloody GIR") can be seen for a split second.

# Due to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, several episodes were edited to remove material which, at the time, might have been considered in poor taste. Among the changes was the re-animating of a sequence of Door to Door (the VMU helmet sequence is completely different due to the presence of a destroyed Statue of Liberty in the background).Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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